Chakalaka is considered to be a salad in Soweto, but think of it as a spicy vegetable relish, because the vegetables are chopped and cooked.
I created this recipe for a themed Shabbat lunch that infused Asian, African and Indian flavours. The first time I made it, I served it with brown sugar beans, but it wasn’t until I created it as a deconstructed sushi salad that it flew off the platter.
When I asked my domestic helper what the isiZulu or isiXhosa word for ‘deconstructed’ is, she responded quite simply, ‘Do you mean it’s broken?’
Well yes, that’s exactly what it is, so it became tsebrochen (Yiddish for ‘broken’) salad.
If you need to save time, you can prepare the chakalaka sauce a day ahead or use a ready-made one.
- 3 cups ready-cooked sushi rice, or 3 x 85g vegetable-flavoured ramen noodles
- 1 English cucumber, pith removed and julienned
- 250g baby corn, sliced on the diagonal
- 250g sugar snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, julienned
- ½ cup chopped spring onions
- 100g salted cashew nuts
- Handful chopped fresh coriander for garnishing
- ½ cup chakalaka sauce (see below)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup cold water
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar or sweetener
- If using the ramen noodles instead of sushi rice, prepare the noodles according to the packet instructions, but retain the third packet for crumbling the dry noodles over the salad.
- Spoon the sushi rice or noodles onto a platter and cover with the cucumber, baby corn, peas, peppers, carrots and spring onions. Alternatively, arrange the ingredients in groups over the rice.
- To make the dressing, combine the chakalaka with the mayonnaise, water, vinegar and sugar or sweetener until well mixed.
- When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the sushi rice and vegetables and garnish with the cashew nuts and fresh coriander. If using noodles, crumble the third packet of noodles over the top of the dressed salad.
Makes 4 Cups
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
4 onions, finely chopped
2 tsp medium-strength curry powder
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 small green peppers, finely sliced lengthwise
2 green or red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (or more, to taste)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 carrots, grated
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
6 large, very ripe red tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar or equivalent sweetener
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley or coriander
- Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft.
- Mix in the curry powder and cumin.
- Add the celery, green peppers, chillies, garlic, carrots, ginger and tomatoes, and mix well.
- Allow to boil for 15–20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- Finally, add the salt and pepper, vinegar, sugar or sweetener and parsley or coriander, and give it a good stir. Decant into the prepared jars when cool.